A mature Phyllostachys nigra is a spectacular plant indeed; the lake at Marwood gardens in England is graced with a huge example planted on the bank. The striking black stems of the plant, crowned with lush dark green, even leaves and reflected in the water is staggering. The assumption that something quite exotic cannot be hardy is quite wrong; these giant bamboos are tough as old boots and need no protection at all. Be aware, however, that bamboos of the genus Phyllostachys are spreaders and produce vigorous, fast growing rhizomes. These can be kept in check by planting root barrier into the soil to a depth of around 60cm. A minor investment for one of the most elegant plants in nature.